For decades, local pageants have symbolized a way for marginalized ethnic groups to celebrate their unique beauty and culture. At a Fourth of July picnic in 1948, a San Francisco Chinese American organization held its first “Miss Chinatown” beauty pageant, which continued through 1952. In 1953, San Francisco’s Chinese Chamber of Commerce combined this popular event with the annual Lunar New Year festival and expanded the event nationally. To this day, Miss Chinatown USA continues to be the longest-running Chinese-American pageant. Every year, cities across the country send candidates to compete in qipaos (in place of evening gowns) and display a range of talents including traditional forms of Chinese dance, music and performance. The program pictured above, from New York's unaffiliated 1955 Miss Chinatown pageant, demonstrates the practice of local businesses sponsoring candidates such as Miss Wing Furniture Co. and Miss Chinese Hand Laundry Association.